Red Wings to Recall Robbie Russo

With defenseman Ryan Sproul shelved by a sprained knee suffered in a 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night, the Red Wings will recall Robbie Russo to take his place.

I’m okay with this call-up and was hoping for either Russo or Joe Hicketts. Basically anyone except for Brian Lashoff, who inexplicably got called up in December over the then-buried Nick Jensen.

Russo was signed by the Red Wings in 2015 as an unsigned draft pick of the New York Islanders.  In his professional debut with the Grand Rapids Griffins last season, he was named to the AHL All-Rookie team and was a second-team all-star.  This year he represented Grand Rapids at the AHL All-Star Challenge.  He has seven goals and 24 assists for 31 points in 56 games this season for the Griffins, good for first among the team’s defensemen.

Thoughts on the Red Wings’ Trade Deadline

I was feeling pretty good about the Red Wings’ efforts in the lead up to the NHL’s trade deadline this morning.  Then the Thomas Vanek trade happened.  Those who follow DH.N on Twitter know I am less than happy about that but I’ll look at each of the Wings’ moves piece-by-piece here.

Tomas Jurco
The Red Wings traded Tomas Jurco to the Chicago Blackhawks last Friday.  An upcoming restricted free agent, Jurco never really latched on with the Red Wings.  Detroit got a third-round pick in the deal, which is more than I would have expected.

I don’t think Jurco was ever used properly in Detroit so it hurts to see him go to Chicago, but if the Wings weren’t going to use him, at least they got some value for him.  This is a pretty solid deal.

Brendan Smith
The first of Detroit’s pending unrestricted free agents, the team tried to sign him to a contract extension but the trade offer from the New York Rangers was too much to turn down.  Smith netted the Red Wings a third-round pick in the upcoming 2017 NHL Entry Draft and a second-round pick in 2018.

This was Detroit’s best move of the week.  I probably would have been happy with a second or a third, to get both feels like larceny.  That said, like Jurco, perhaps Smith just needs a change of scenery.  It’s not that he was particularly bad this year in Detroit, but he’s weighed down by the expectations and the memory of bad performances.

Steve Ott
I never liked Ott’s signing, that’s no secret.  I don’t know why the Canadiens thought they needed him, either.  He wasn’t horrible in Detroit by any means, I just think his role could have been filled by one of the kids in Grand Rapids, namely Tyler Bertuzzi or Tomas Nosek.  Getting a sixth-round pick for Ott seems like a near-miracle.

Thomas Vanek
I’m going to need more space for this one.

Nick Jensen
Not a trade, the Red Wings locked up Jensen for two more years at around $800,000 each.  Jensen has stepped onto the Wings’ blue line and seemingly leapfrogged both Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet (and definitely Alexey Marchenko, now in Toronto).

I like this signing for multiple reasons.  One, it’s only two years, unlike the ridiculous four-year deal that Brian Lashoff got after serving in a similar capacity back during the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign.  Two, it can entirely be buried in the minors if Jensen ends up being a bust or if the Wings acquire a legitimate top defenseman at some point.

Mitch Callahan
With Ott off to Montreal, the Red Wings called up forward Mitch Callahan to take his place.  I’m okay with this but I’d rather have seen Bertuzzi get the nod, as I mentioned above (Nosek is currently injured and wouldn’t be called up).

Drew Miller
The trade that didn’t happen.  I don’t know if anyone was interested in Miller but he’s the one upcoming unrestricted free agent that Holland was unable to unload.  Part of me thinks that if you can unload Ott, you can unload Miller.  But maybe the Habs were the only team interested in a guy like that.

Thomas Vanek
Okay, let’s try this one again…

Vanek had to be dealt.  He’s been one of the Wings’ best players this season and is an unrestricted free agent this summer, so it was assumed that he had significant value.  At the end of the day, it sounds like there weren’t that many teams interested, though, and he only fetched a third-round draft pick (plus AHLer Dylan McIlrath, minus retaining some salary).  That the Wings got the best deal they could get is good.

It’s kind of hard to see that for multiple reasons, though.  There was a lot of buzz about Vanek in the lead up to the deadline and Minnesota made a massive deal for Martin Hanzal, a player deemed to be somewhat comparable to Vanek.  You don’t trade buzz, though.  The best player the Red Wings had to offer simply wasn’t enough to generate that much interest.

Winging it in Motown’s JJ from Kansas has been talking about getting caught up in the hype about Vanek.  Take a look at Detroit’s history as buyers, though, and it’s hard not to.

In 2015 the Wings gave up a solid prospect in Mattias Janmark, a questionable prospect in Mattias Backman, and a second round pick for Erik Cole and a third rounder.  In 2014 Detroit traded Calle Jarnkrok, Patrick Eaves, and a third round pick for David Legwand.

In my mind, 2017 Thomas Vanek is better than 2015 Erik Cole or 2014 David Legwand, so I would expect 2017 Thomas Vanek to bring in more than 2015 Erik Cole or 2014 David Legwand.  But that’s not what this year’s market supported.

So it’s disappointing that costs are high when the Wings are buyers but they’re low when they’re sellers.  It’s hard to swallow.  It feels like if the Wings should have to sell, they should get to sell for the same prices that all the teams that profited from them got to sell at.

Overall
All of that said, the Wings did the best that they could with what they had.  In sheer volume of picks, the last week has been a pretty impressive haul.

I’m not as excited about the upcoming draft as Ken Holland is, though.  Holland has spoken about having so many picks to work with, more than they’ve had since 2002.  This draft is shallow and none of those picks are particularly high.  As such, I don’t see this sell off as sparking a rebuild.  Barring some big changes this summer, I don’t think the assets gained in the last week are going to turn things around next year.

Ericsson Done for Season

Red Wings’ defenseman Jonathan Ericsson is seemingly done for the season, having suffered a fractured wrist in last night’s game against the Washington Capitals.

Technically the Red Wings could make the playoffs and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals and Ericsson would have recovered in time to rejoin the team, but I don’t see that happening.

The positive in this is that it clears a roster spot and some cap space for the rest of the season.  Jimmy Howard‘s return will no longer be an issue and guys like Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet should get more playing time.

Ericsson’s play has been criticized for years but he’s been somewhat better this year.  Losing him will hurt the Wings’ defense but I’ve written off the season already so I don’t see that as a big deal.  Additionally, his contract makes him virtually untradeable so it’s not like he’d have been dealt at the trade deadline for future assets.

Red Wings Lose Marchenko to Leafs via Waivers

The Detroit Red Wings lost defenseman Alexey Marchenko to the Toronto Maple Leafs via waivers on Saturday.

Marchenko was waived to clear a roster spot for Brendan Smith, who is slated to return from injury tonight as the Red Wings visit the Nashville Predators.

Marchenko made the Red Wings’ roster out of camp last season, then went on to play for his native Russia at the World Championships last spring and the World Cup of Hockey.  Despite that, he lost his roster spot to Nick Jensen this season and fell behind Ryan Sproul on the team’s depth chart.

I’m not surprised that Marchenko was claimed, given how many teams have been clamoring for right-handed shooting defensemen.  I can’t help but think that this is yet another case of asset mis-management by the Red Wings’ brass.

Red Wings Place Marchenko on Waivers

The Detroit Red Wings have placed defenseman Alexey Marchenko on waivers.

The move comes with defenseman Brendan Smith scheduled to return from injury tomorrow against the Nashville Predators, requiring that the Red Wings open up a roster spot.

It would appear that Marchenko, who made the Red Wings’ roster out of camp last season and played for his native Russia at both the 2016 World Championships and the World Cup of Hockey, has been passed on the depth chart by Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen, and Ryan Sproul.

I had expected Sproul to be the one to get the axe, given criticism of his play.  I suppose the Red Wings brass sees more upside in him than Marchenko.

With the number of teams looking for right handed shots right now, I find it hard to believe Marchenko won’t get claimed.  That said, I’m still surprised Teemu Pulkkinen is in the AHL right now so what do I know?  If he does make it through, he’ll head to the Grand Rapids Griffins and re-join their already-packed blueline.

Report: Miller Waived to Make Room for Kronwall

Per Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News, the Red Wings will be placing Drew Miller on waivers at noon today to make room for the return of Niklas Kronwall from injured reserve.

My understanding of waivers was that the player had to have cleared before his roster spot opened up, so I’m a little confused here, but I could just be misunderstanding.

Either way, it’s not the move I expected or preferred, but it’s acceptable.  I expected Ryan Sproul to get waived, as he’s the odd-defenseman-out.  I would have liked Steve Ott to get waived, but he can’t be while he’s on injured reserve.  It’ll be interesting to see if someone takes a flier on him or if he ends up in GR.


Per Winging it in Motown, a player can still be on the roster but not count towards the limit if they’re on waivers. This seems weird to me because there are cases where a player has played while on waivers.  Maybe it’s a case-by-case basis or something.

On Judging the Kids

It’s no secret that I’ve written off this season for the Red Wings and want to see them “play the kids.”  I wrote early this month that I liked that Ryan Sproul had been in position to make the mistake that led to a Florida Panthers overtime win.

The game after that mistake, Sproul was a minus-3 in a loss to Pittsburgh.  He’s played in just four of the Red Wings’ 11 games since then.  He’s spent time behind both Brian Lashoff and Nick Jensen on the Wings’ depth chart.

Andreas Athanasiou had seven shifts last night.  At the end of the first period, on his fourth shift, the Senators scored with seconds left to tie things up.  On his sixth shift, he jumped the gun to try to force an odd-man rush and was out of position when the pass he was waiting for got picked off, turning into an Ottawa goal.  His seventh shift closed out the second period.  He didn’t play in the third.

I want to see what the kids can do when given opportunity.  Benching takes that opportunity away.  We may find out over a season that Sproul doesn’t have it.  We may find out that Athanasiou can’t handle more than 12 minutes per night.  But we don’t know unless they get that opportunity.

I will say that, with Sproul benched, I’m glad that Nick Jensen is getting his own opportunity.  That makes a lot more sense to me than Lashoff playing.


There are two things about the small sample size that these guys have to prove themselves that have been rattling around in my head.

#1 – Lets say that Sproul plays a full season, fills in well, but is otherwise unspectacular.  Hey, a kid stepped into the NHL and proved he belonged and that’s good, right?  Yeah, but don’t throw a four-year deal at him all of the sudden.  Looking at you, Brian Lashoff.

#2 – Jared Coreau is a great story.  Two wins in his first three NHL starts after he started his pro career going a full year without a win.  He’s probably going to start the Centennial Classic and, given Petr Mrazek‘s struggles, he probably should.  But you know who else won two out of his first three starts for the Red Wings?  Norm Maracle.  Just saying, lets not get ahead of ourselves proclaiming him the starter or anything.

Morning After: Mistakes, Instigators, and Howard

A week and a half ago I wrote about how Ryan Sproul made a mistake that directly led to the overtime game-winning goal for the Florida Panthers.  While I didn’t like the mistake, I was glad that Sproul was out there to make it.  I saw it as a sign that he was getting his chance, that the Red Wings were willing to suffer through some growing pains.

The next game, Sproul was on the ice for three of the Penguins’ four third-period goals as Pittsburgh rallied to win. The only mistake I see on those plays is his failure to cut off a cross-crease pass on the third.

He hasn’t played since, having been replaced by Brian Lashoff (of all people) and then Alexey Marchenko, having returned from injury.

Maybe I was wrong about him getting his shot.  Or maybe I’m missing a mistake that earned him a spot in the pressbox.  Xavier Ouellet has been playing while Sproul sits and I think Sproul has been better this season than Ouellet.  But what do I know?


Speaking of Ouellet, he took an insigator minor and a misconduct for jumping Michael Raffl last night after Raffl hit Steve Ott.  I think it’s hilarious that Ott, the guy who was brought in to stand up for guys, needed someone to stand up for him.

While Matt Shepard was quick to throw praise to Ouellet for fighting on behalf of the guy who usually sticks up for everyone else, I think that was a really dumb move.  Midway through the third period of a tied game you put your team down a man for two minutes and short a defenseman for effectively the rest of the game.

There’s standing up for your teammate and there’s making a smart play.  Sometimes that overlaps.  This time it didn’t.


Jimmy Howard didn’t deserve that loss, but that’s not the first time it’s happened this season.  It’s nothing new that his goal support has been pathetic this season and while a 1-0 loss (even in overtime) doesn’t help the Red Wings much, his play in those games does.

Howard, in all likelihood, will not be a Red Wing next season.  Vegas should claim him in the expansion draft if he’s available.  If they’re not right now, the team should try to trade him at the deadline.

Who knows what kind of market there will be but a team like the Calgary Flames may decide that the Brian Elliot experiment was a failure and, as they scratch for a playoff spot, they need someone more reliable than career backup Chad Johnson.

My point being that Howard’s play makes it easier to trade him, and trading him means that they’re not only free of his contract but also the player who Vegas ends up taking instead of Howard.

This is nothing new, of course.  It’s just worth mentioning that Howard’s play might make it a little more possible to pull off.

On Wings/Panthers, Growing Pains, and Abdelkader

So the Red Wings had a good period and a couple periods where they pretty much clung to life.  They got solid goaltending.  They didn’t dominate, nor were they dominated.

That’s last night’s game, but how many games from this season could it describe?  The games this season are pretty indistinguishable from each other.

And, honestly, that’s about what I expected coming into this season.  This was never going to be a fun season to watch.  That doesn’t mean good things aren’t happening.

Ryan Sproul made an ill-advised dump-in in overtime last night that turned into an Aleksander Barkov breakaway and game-winning goal.  It’s a rookie mistake.  But it also means a rookie was in position to make that mistake.  Sproul is finally getting a chance to show what he can do and, yeah, he’s made some mistakes, but he’s also found a home on the power play.

They’re injured now, but Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi have shown that they can play at the NHL level.  This is what I’ve been waiting for, the kids to get a chance.  No, they’re not tearing up the league, but we’re finally seeing what they can do so we can evaluate from there.

I wrote this season off from the beginning.  It’s boring and it’s a lot of losing.  But good is coming of it.

And it’s looking like another prospect is going to get a chance, with Justin Abdelkader out 2-4 weeks with a sprained MCL.  I originally said I wanted Evgeny Svechnikov to get the call but I’m kind of curious about Matt Lorito, who’s not a traditional prospect but leads the Griffins in scoring.

What I don’t want to see is the Red Wings call up no one and just slide Drew Miller back into the lineup.  There’s a top-six (or top-nine, depending on how the lines are jumbled) spot open, don’t push a fourth-liner up into it.

Pregame: Lightning @ Red Wings – 11/15

The Red Wings look to bounce back from their 5-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.

Tyler Bertuzzi exits the Detroit lineup, having been sent back to the Grand Rapids Griffins.  Drew Miller re-takes his spot on the fourth line with Bertuzzi gone.

On defense, Ryan Sproul swaps in for Niklas Kronwall, who is taking a few days off to rest his knees.

Petr Mrazek gets the start in goal for the Red Wings.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD.


Stupid Stat of the Day
The Red Wings haven’t won a game on November 15th in regulation since 2000.